Foonly

Last updated
Foonly, Inc.
Type Private
FoundedJune 7, 1976;46 years ago (1976-06-07) [1]
FounderDave W Poole [2]
DefunctApril 19, 1989 (1989-04-19) [1]
FateDissolved
Headquarters,
United States
Products Mainframes
Computer hardware
Computer software

Foonly Inc. was an American computer company formed by Dave Poole [2] in 1976, [4] that produced a series of DEC PDP-10 compatible mainframe computers, named Foonly F1 to Foonly F5. [5]

Contents

The first and most famous Foonly machine, the F1, was the computer used by Triple-I to create some of the computer-generated imagery in the 1982 film Tron . [2]

History

At the beginning of the 1970s, the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (SAIL) began to study the building of a new computer to replace their DEC PDP-10 KA-10, by a far more powerful machine, with a funding from Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). [2] This project was named "Super-Foonly", and was developed by a team led by Phil Petit, Jack Holloway, and Dave Poole. [2] [6] The name itself came from FOO NLI, an error message emitted by a PDP-10 assembler at SAIL meaning "FOO is Not a Legal Identifier". [7] In 1974, DARPA cut the funding, and a large part of the team went to DEC to develop the PDP-10 model KL10, based on the Super-Foonly project. [2]

But Dave Poole, with Phil Petit and Jack Holloway, preferred to found the Foonly Company in 1976, [4] to try to build a series of computers based on the Super-Foonly project.

During the early 1980s, after the releasing of their first and only F1, Foonly built and sold some F2, F4 and F5 low cost DEC PDP-10 compatible machines. [4] [2] [5]

In 1983, after the cancellation of the Jupiter project, Foonly tried to propose a new Foonly F1, but it was eclipsed by the SC Group company and their Mars project, and the company never quite recovered, shutting down in 1989. [2]

Computers

List of models

Foonly F1
Design
ManufacturerFoonly Inc.
DesignerDave Poole [2]
Release date1978 [4]
Units sold1 [2]
Price$700,000 [5]
Casing
Weight-
Power5 kW [5] @ 110/220V
System
Front-end DEC PDP-10 KA-10
Operating system FOONEX [5]
CPU 36-bit processor @ 11.1 MHz [5]
Memory Up to 18 MB (4096 x 36 bits) [5]
MIPS 4.5 MIPS [5]

Model MIPS Word SizeFrequencyMemoryPriceBaysPower
Foonly F14.5 MIPS36 bits11.1 MHz 18 MB $700 00045 kW
Foonly F20.5 MIPS36 bits2.8 MHz4.5 MB$150 00010.5 kW
Foonly F41.4 MIPS36 bits8 MHz9 MB$300 00011 kW
Foonly F4B1.8 MIPS36 bits8 MHz9 MB$350 00011.5 kW
Foonly F50.3 MIPS36 bits3.3 MHz2.25 MB$80 0000.50.8 kW

The Foonly F1

The Foonly F1 was the first and most powerful Foonly computer, but also the only one being built of its kind. It was based on the Super-Foonly project designs, aimed to be the fastest DEC PDP-10 compatible, [2] but using emitter-coupled logic (ECL) gates rather than transistor–transistor logic (TTL), and without the extended instruction set. [8] [9] It was developed with the help of Triple-I, its first customer, and began operations in 1978. [4]

The computer consisted of four cabinets:

It was able to reach 4.5 MIPS. [5]

The F1 is mostly famous to have been the computer behind some of the Computer-generated imagery of the Disney 1982 Tron movie, and also Looker (1981).

After that, the computer was bought by the Canadian Omnibus Computer Graphics company, and was used on some movies, such as television logos for CBC, CTV, and Global Television Network channels, opening titles for the show Hockey Night in Canada, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984), Flight of the Navigator (1986), Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future television series (1987), and MarilynMonrobot. [11]

Other models

Unlike the F1, the other models (F2, F4, F4B, F5) were built with the slower TTL rather than ECL circuits, and housed in a single cabinet, rather than four.

Rather than use DEC's Massbus (or other DEC bus), Foonly developed F-bus, which can work with DEC and non-DEC peripherals. [12]

F2

Foonly described the F2 as "a powerful mainframe at a minicomputer price," "with an average execution speed about 25% of that of the DECSYSTEM-2060." [13]

Peripherals

Standard equipment: [14]

Software

The Foonly machines, which could run the TENEX operating system, came with a derivative thereof, FOONEX. [5]

Tymshare

Tymshare attempted marketing the Foonly line, using the name "Tymshare XX Series Computer Family" [14] of which the Tymshare System XXVI" was the main focus. [15]

Related Research Articles

Systems Concepts is a company co-founded by Stewart Nelson and Mike Levitt focused on making hardware products related to the DEC PDP-10 series of computers. One of its major products was the SA-10, an interface which allowed PDP-10s to be connected to disk and tape drives designed for use with the channel interfaces of IBM mainframes.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Minicomputer</span> Mid-1960s–late-1980s class of smaller computers

A minicomputer, or colloquially mini, is a class of smaller general purpose computers that developed in the mid-1960s and sold for much less than mainframe and mid-size computers from IBM and its direct competitors. In a 1970 survey, The New York Times suggested a consensus definition of a minicomputer as a machine costing less than US$25,000, with an input-output device such as a teleprinter and at least four thousand words of memory, that is capable of running programs in a higher level language, such as Fortran or BASIC.

PDP-10 36-bit computer by Digital (1966–1983)

Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC)'s PDP-10, later marketed as the DECsystem-10, is a mainframe computer family manufactured beginning in 1966 and discontinued in 1983. 1970s models and beyond were marketed under the DECsystem-10 name, especially as the TOPS-10 operating system became widely used.

DECSYSTEM-20

The DECSYSTEM-20 was a 36-bit Digital Equipment Corporation PDP-10 mainframe computer running the TOPS-20 operating system. It differed physically from the contemporary DECsystem-10 only in the color of its paint.

Programmed Data Processor Name used for several lines of minicomputers

Programmed Data Processor (PDP), referred to by some customers, media and authors as "Programmable Data Processor," is a term used by the Digital Equipment Corporation from 1957 to 1990 for several lines of minicomputers.

PDP-11 Series of 16-bit minicomputers

The PDP-11 is a series of 16-bit minicomputers sold by Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) from 1970 into the 1990s, one of a set of products in the Programmed Data Processor (PDP) series. In total, around 600,000 PDP-11s of all models were sold, making it one of DEC's most successful product lines. The PDP-11 is considered by some experts to be the most popular minicomputer.

Time-sharing Computing resource shared by concurrent users

In computing, time-sharing is the sharing of a computing resource among many users at the same time by means of multiprogramming and multi-tasking.

VAX Line of computers sold by Digital Equipment Corporation

VAX is a series of computers featuring a 32-bit instruction set architecture (ISA) and virtual memory that was developed and sold by Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) in the late 20th century. The VAX-11/780, introduced October 25, 1977, was the first of a range of popular and influential computers implementing the VAX ISA. The VAX family was a huge success for DEC - over 100 models were introduced over the lifetime of the design, with the last members arriving in the early 1990s. The VAX was succeeded by the DEC Alpha, which included several features from VAX machines to make porting from the VAX easier.

Transistor–transistor logic (TTL) is a logic family built from bipolar junction transistors. Its name signifies that transistors perform both the logic function and the amplifying function, as opposed to resistor–transistor logic (RTL) or diode–transistor logic (DTL).

Microcomputer Small computer with a processor made of one or a few integrated circuits

A microcomputer is a small, relatively inexpensive computer having a central processing unit (CPU) made out of a microprocessor. The computer also includes memory and input/output (I/O) circuitry together mounted on a printed circuit board (PCB) Microcomputers became popular in the 1970s and 1980s with the advent of increasingly powerful microprocessors. The predecessors to these computers, mainframes and minicomputers, were comparatively much larger and more expensive. Many microcomputers are also personal computers. An early use of the term personal computer in 1962 predates microprocessor-based designs. (See "Personal Computer: Computers at Companies" reference below). A microcomputer used as an embedded control system may have no human-readable input and output devices. "Personal computer" may be used generically or may denote an IBM PC compatible machine.

Emitter-coupled logic

In electronics, emitter-coupled logic (ECL) is a high-speed integrated circuit bipolar transistor logic family. ECL uses an overdriven bipolar junction transistor (BJT) differential amplifier with single-ended input and limited emitter current to avoid the saturated region of operation and its slow turn-off behavior. As the current is steered between two legs of an emitter-coupled pair, ECL is sometimes called current-steering logic (CSL), current-mode logic (CML) or current-switch emitter-follower (CSEF) logic.

PDP-6 36-bit mainframe computer (1964–1966)

The PDP-6, short for Programmed Data Processor model 6, is a computer developed by Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) during 1963 and first delivered in the summer of 1964. It was an expansion of DEC's existing 18-bit systems to use a 36-bit data word, which was at that time a common word size for large machines like IBM mainframes. The system was constructed using the same germanium transistor-based System Module layout as DEC's earlier machines, like the PDP-1 and PDP-4.

History of computing hardware (1960s–present) Aspect of history

The history of computing hardware starting at 1960 is marked by the conversion from vacuum tube to solid-state devices such as transistors and then integrated circuit (IC) chips. Around 1953 to 1959, discrete transistors started being considered sufficiently reliable and economical that they made further vacuum tube computers uncompetitive. Metal-oxide-semiconductor (MOS) large-scale integration (LSI) technology subsequently led to the development of semiconductor memory in the mid-to-late 1960s and then the microprocessor in the early 1970s. This led to primary computer memory moving away from magnetic-core memory devices to solid-state static and dynamic semiconductor memory, which greatly reduced the cost, size, and power consumption of computers. These advances led to the miniaturized personal computer (PC) in the 1970s, starting with home computers and desktop computers, followed by laptops and then mobile computers over the next several decades.

In computer engineering, a logic family is one of two related concepts:

Tymshare, Inc. was a time-sharing service and third-party hardware maintenance company competing with companies such as CompuServe, Service Bureau Corporation and National CSS. Tymshare developed or acquired innovative technologies, including data networking (Tymnet), electronic data interchange (EDI), credit card and payment processing, telecommunications provisioning (COEES), office automation and database technology. It was headquartered in Cupertino, California from 1964 to 1984.

VAX 8000 Discontinued family of superminicomputers

The VAX 8000 is a discontinued family of superminicomputers developed and manufactured by Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) using processors implementing the VAX instruction set architecture (ISA).

The VAX 9000 is a discontinued family of Minicomputers developed and manufactured by Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) using custom ECL-based processors implementing the VAX instruction set architecture (ISA). Equipped with optional vector processors, they were marketed into the supercomputer space as well. As with other VAX systems, they were sold with either the VMS or Ultrix operating systems.

FACOM is a trademark used for Fujitsu's computers. The first product is FACOM 100, built in 1954. In May 1990, the brand name of FACOM was abolished and changed to Fujitsu.

The TENET 210 was a mainframe computer designed for timesharing services. The machine was designed for high throughput and expandability, including 20 direct memory access (DMA) channels and eight slots for core memory, allowing up to 128k 32-bit words of RAM. The sales materials boasted that it guaranteed user responses within one second.

References

  1. 1 2 "Corporates Wiki, Foonly entry".
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 "The New Hacker's Dictionary, by Eric S. Raymond, Guy L. Steele".
  3. "Computing facilities for AI, 1981" (PDF). S2CID   17838082. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 July 2018.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 "Foonly F2 Brochure, 1981" (PDF).
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Foonly Product Overview Brochure
  6. "Dave Dayer, one of the F1 designers, about Foonly".
  7. "Foonly".
  8. "The Foonly F1: The Computer Behind Tron (1982)".
  9. "Dave Dyer, one of the principals behind the F1, Dave Sieg website".
  10. 1 2 "The Foonly F1, Dave Sieg website".
  11. "Moving Innovation : a History of Computer History, Tom Sito" (PDF).
  12. Larry Lettieri (November 1980). "Foonly challenges DEC patents with emulator". Mini-Micro Systems . pp. 15, 17.
  13. "The F2 - A New Flexible Alternative" (PDF).
  14. 1 2 Tymshare (1981). The Tymshare XX Series Computer Family. p. 4.
  15. Tymshare's System XXVI. 1981.